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Help Night for Remote Learning earns Knowlton Award

August 26, 2021

Knowlton Excellence in Quality Award winners (l-to-r): Shawn Zwach, Kyle Korman, Andrew Kramer, and Tom Halverson. Not pictured is Chris Loutsch.
Knowlton Excellence in Quality Award winners (l-to-r): Shawn Zwach, Kyle Korman, Andrew Kramer, and Tom Halverson. Not pictured is Chris Loutsch.

A faculty and student team in The Beacom College of Computer and Cyber Sciences has been awarded the 2020-2021 Knowlton Excellence in Quality Award for their work creating Help Night for Remote Learning.

Since 2017, The annual Knowlton award has been presented to employees who have made outstanding contributions to improve processes and outcomes for all DSU stakeholders. It is named after former DSU president, Doug Knowlton, who was a leader in implementing the Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) program at Dakota State in 2010. CQI is a business management philosophy and a technique that perpetually evaluates processes in an organization.

With the sudden move to remote learning in the spring of 2020, the Beacom team implemented an improvement project for online student academic support. The goal of the project was to provide 24/7 online assistance through text/chat interaction, voice chat, and screen sharing for students in technology classes. This assistance was previously available in person through Computer Club help nights.

Officers of the Computer Club and Beacom faculty worked together to create a server, according to Christopher Loutsch, now an alumnus and Research Engineer II.

Over 500 users, made up of faculty, students, and alumni, joined the Help Night for Remote Learning. The project led to a high volume of users and help sessions. It also helped develop communication and technical skills in students receiving assistance and the student “helpers” who provided assistance.

“It was great to see students using it as we had intended and even expanding it beyond what we originally planned,” said Kyle Korman, alumnus and Research Engineer II. “It continues to have an impact as an online gathering space and that’s been fantastic to see it live beyond classes and events being moved online.”

Members of the team who created Help Night for Remote Learning include Korman and Loutsch, and Beacom faculty members Tom Halverson, Andrew Kramer, and Shawn Zwach.

While the team was happy and surprised to learn they won, the project means much more to them than an award. “I just wanted to be a part of helping a program that helped me out,” Loutsch said.

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